Simple, seasonal, beautifully presented dishes, paired with rare natural wines and enjoyed in a warm, hassle-free environment: that’s what you can expect at ex-L'Arpège chef Bertrand Grébaut’s Septime, an understated neo-bistro open weekdays on Rue de Charonne. Its Scandi-inspired interior rings with chatter at every sitting, creating a jovial setting for a laid-back, modern French experience. Prix fixe menus are available at lunch and dinner, the best deal being the €30 option at lunch, which includes a starter, a main, and dessert. Make sure to peer over at the open kitchen to see the chefs at work -- it’s quite the spectacle.
In terms of décor, Le Pantruche delivers the complete opposite experience of Septime. With dark oak furnishings, copious banquettes, glittery columns, and wall-length mirrors, this popular haunt makes a clear effort to evoke the opulent restaurant aesthetic popular in 1930s Paris. Chef Franck Baranger runs the show here, producing precise and well-executed plates packed with fresh ingredients and heaps of off-kilter ideas. The menu changes every month, but if you’re lucky, you may get hold of favorites like the signature huître en tartare, shredded oysters served in a cream of lettuce soup, or one of many sumptuous rotating desserts, such as the Grand Marnier soufflé with salted caramel sauce. Prices are €19 for two courses at lunch, three for €35 at dinner.
It doesn’t get more central than this "Garden Patch Bistro" on one of the Île Saint-Louis’ criss-crossing old-world streets. As you might have guessed, fresh, seasonal garden produce forms the basis of most dishes at this chic yet unassuming address, as Alsatian chef Antoine Westermann tries his utmost to cater to vegetarian and omnivorous visitors alike. Blending contrasting textures and colours, Westermann handles both raw and cooked elements with élan, the menu swiveling from extravagant salads and vegetable tartares to lushly seasoned meat and fish dishes served with a strong green component. The two house desserts, meanwhile, are rum baba and a spot-on chocolate tart. This one’s more on the steep side, with a lunchtime prix fixe costing €47.50.
Cozy Asian fusion bistro Will has played a large part in transforming the eastern 12th arrondissement into a much-talked-about dining destination over the past couple of years, and rightly so. Customers perch on vintage 1960s furnishings gridded in a light-filled, minimalist dining space, and pick out options from a copious set lunch menu (€19 for two small starters and a main, or a main and a dessert). The menu consists mainly of refined, aromatic re-imaginings of European classics, ranging from steak tartare to tuna veal, roasted hake, and tuna carpaccio. Each plate usually comes infused with a subtle Southeast Asian flavor, like a whiff of ginger or a dash of sesame oil, although the Asian influence is more pronounced in some. For instance, the side of Malaysian satay eggplant is a knockout.
It can be difficult to get really good Mexican food in Paris, but the unpretentious Zicatela does burritos, quesadillas, and enchiladas exquisitely. The restaurant is certainly on the homey side, though it rarely fills up at lunch, which is fortunately when it serves its most fantastic value formules. Choose from a burrito, fajitas, or a quesadilla as your main, which also comes with a glass of sangria, an extra drink, or a dessert, and a tea or coffee (all for €13.50-€15.50). The vegetarian Oaxaca and tuna Emperador quesadillas are particularly well done, while the refreshing horchata is worth stopping in for on any sunny -- or simply hectic -- Parisian day out.
A dynamic, contemporary Tuscan trattoria done out in industrial wood, grey colors, and low-hanging lanterns, Sassotondo wows thanks to its humble, hearty Italian creations. House-made pasta, fresh charcuterie, seafood & cheeses, and seasonal vegetables form the basis of a menu that spans staple dishes from across Northern Italy, such as clam and pecorino gnocchi, smoked duck breast with creamy polenta, or spiced baked figs. If you’re after a weightier dessert, then the tiramisu is among the best in Paris. The two-course prix fixe menu at midday is relatively limited (there are just five starters and five mains to choose from), but you’ll still want to order it all. Come dinner, four courses are €33.
The Rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière overflows with choices for rapid lunchtime take-out, but vibrant, multi-course bistronomy’s the specialty at inventive neo-bistro Abri. The face behind the food is Japanese chef Katsuaki Okiyama, previously of the deluxe two-Michelin-star Taillevent, who serves a limited six-course menu of dainty Japanese-French dishes at dinner (€48). The menu changes every day, and Okiyama and his waiting team attempt to personalize each and every course to the customer, depending on taste and mood. Space is very limited -- we’re talking 10 or so tables in one fairly small, former retail space -- so make sure to book well in advance.
This Belleville restaurant’s deeply generous two-course lunch menu (€20) should definitely feature prominently on your hit list. The joint project of MasterChef France finalists and business partners Thibault Sombardier and Kevin d’Andréa, Mensae has proved particularly popular among 19th arrondissement locals in recent months. The two courses are always the plats du jours, either a starter and a main or a main and a dessert, and are usually modern takes on quite simple continental classics -- think risotto, fresh cuts of fish and meat, ravioli, and so on. If you’re feeling particularly peckish, why not add in a sharing plate of frogs’ legs with parsley and garlic, served in a saucepan, or the sizeable platter of fragrant Lyonnais charcuterie.
Don’t expect anything fancy at this laid-back vegetarian café and canteen, five minutes down the road from Mensae, but do expect filling, mostly wholesome food, and more than decent value for money. There’s a slightly complicated array of set menus on offer here, but usually you can get away with three courses for €12-€15. The menu at €13 includes two savory mains, including soups, couscous salads, and sandwiches, a slice of one of the signature savory "cakes," and a dessert. Whichever formule you go for, definitely opt for the excellent cheese & tomato cake, and the perfectly gooey chocolate slice -- the two best things on the menu. You can either eat in at one of the battered wooden banquettes or take it to-go.
It’s certainly worth traveling up to the 18th arrondissement, just east of Montmartre and its crowded slopes, to sample the surprisingly affordable lunch menus at this Michelin-starred contemporary French bistro. From Tuesday to Sunday every week, Geoffroy Maillard -- formerly of the super-flashy Le Bristol and Plaza Athenée -- and his kitchen team deliver flavorful plates that work sophisticated wonders out of relatively simple, locally sourced ingredients. The menu changes every 10 days, but recent standouts include things like Iberian pork ribs on a bed of sweetcorn and beetroot, sprinkled with mole sauce; and semi-cooked foie gras with vineyard peach and a pear & port chutney. Sure, the atmosphere may be pretty formal, but the capacity of this space is bright and tranquil, and the staff is very friendly. For €35, you can expect two courses, an appetizer, and a gourmandise to finish; €42 gets you the same, but with three courses.
1. Septime80 rue de Charonne, Paris
2. Le Pantruche3 rue Victor Massé, Paris
3. Mon Vieil Ami69 rue Saint-Louis-en-l'Ile, Paris
4. Will75 rue Crozatier, Paris
5. Zicatela8 rue Geoffroy Marie, Paris
6. Sassotondo40 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, Paris
7. Abri92 rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, Paris
8. Mensae23 rue Melingue, Paris
9. Zoé Bouillon66 Rue Rebeval, Paris
10. La Table d'Eugène18 rue Eugène Sue, Paris
Septime defies the standard of traditional (read: stuffy) Parisian fine dining with a relaxed, airy atmosphere and neo-industrial décor. As Septime appears on almost every must-eat list in Paris, it is essential that you make a reservation three weeks ahead of time (sigh). Once the countdown on your phone is finally up, though, you’ll enjoy modern bistro dishes like steamed cod with pickled turnips and yuzu sauce or white asparagus with an oyster sauce gribiche. Fresh seasonal ingredients mean the menu is ever changing, which is great news for all you globetrotters lucky enough to visit Septime a second time.
While Le Pantruche is modeled after 1930s-era Parisian restaurants, it illuminates its palette of chestnut and chocolate wooden tables and banquettes with silver chrome tiled columns, mod overhanging lamps, and large mirrors. Above the din of diners chatting about their workday or their latest travels, chefs in the kitchen can be heard whipping up Franck Baranger’s signature oyster tartare, which drenches a delicate scoop of minced oysters in a warm bath of cream of lettuce soup, or the soufflé au Grand Marnier served with salted caramel sauce, both of which should bookend your Pantruche meal. Separate these plates with the veal ravioli, with greens, mushrooms, and foam. While the menu changes every month, you can be sure that its selections will always be well-prepared and well-priced.
At Mon Vieil Ami, you have permission to embrace your inner adult and admit that you actually like veggies. The bistro boasts French home-style cooking that emphasizes leafy (and un-leafy) greens in all forms, from compotes and confits to raw plates and cooked dishes. Meat and fish play supporting roles in this all-star cast of herbivorous delight, and to taste the full spectrum of flavors offered at Mon Vieil Ami we recommend you get the tartar of tomatoes, zucchinis, and olives, with basil vinaigrette and roasted sea breams filet. While you might not have someone to spoon-feed you your verdures, you will feel very much at home in this cozy, dimly lit restaurant that sports plush velvet Amaretto-colored curtains and banquette seating.
At Will in the 12th arrondissement, Chef William Pradelaix has imbued European classic dishes with Asian flavors. The lime green accents and neo flair wooden chairs in the dining room are straight out of your grandmother’s Florida apartment circa 1960, but the restaurant is more or less austere. Light and refreshing, the menu is composed of plates like steak tartare, tuna veal, roasted hake, and tuna carpaccio that have Southeast Asian notes, like ginger, lemongrass, or sesame. The crowd-favorite is Pradelaix’s interpretation of a would-be pineapple upside down cake, crafted with coconut, lime, and ginger. If you make it to Will on a sunny day, chances are you’ll be able to snag a neon-green seat on the sidewalk and linger awhile, perfect for Parisian people watching.
With a Mexican flag proudly hung above the entrance to Zicatela, the green wood-paneled joint is a departure from the land of standard Parisian fare and into the world of casual Mexican bites. The menu is stacked with approachable favorites like oeufs (huevos) rancheros, nachos, guacamole, burritos, and a hefty selection of quesadillas. When the ensalada de nopales, or cactus salad, arrives at your table, tortillas arranged in the shape of a sun will invite you to start scooping and dipping deep into the three sauces at the center of the plate, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. Zicatela is known for its midday fixed menu, which offers a sangria, quesadilla, coffee or tea, and a house-made dessert for under €10.
Though the decor at this Tuscan trattoria is chic and contemporary, adorning the slim space with industrial wood, grey walls, and low-hanging lanterns, the food centers on traditional, hearty dishes from across northern Italy. Stacked with house-made pasta, fresh charcuterie, seafood, cheeses, and seasonal vegetables, the menu features plates such as clam and pecorino gnocchi, smoked duck breast with creamy polenta, and spiced baked figs. No meal is complete without the tiramisu as well, which is among the best in Paris.
This tiny hole-in-the-wall isn't much to look at from the outside, easily overlooked among the many lunchtime takeout spots on Rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière, but step inside the industrial-style bistro and you'll enter the world of Chef Katsuaki Okiyama (previously of two-Michelin-star Taillevent), whose sophisticated Japanese-French fusion is tailored to each guest. Not only does the menu change daily, but Okiyama and his team also personalize every course to the customer, depending on taste and mood. There are only about 10 tables situated around Abri's open kitchen, so we'd highly recommend booking one well in advance.
MasterChef France finalists Thibaut Sombardier and Kevin d’Andréa are behind this cozy Belleville bistro, which has proved popular among 19th arrondissement locals, particularly for its generous and scrumptious lunch menu. It changes daily, but always offers an affordable two-plate combo (either a starter and a main or a main and a dessert), featuring modern takes on simple continental classics, such as risotto, fresh cuts of fish and meat, and ravioli. Sharing plates are also a specialty here, including frogs’ legs served with parsley and garlic in a saucepan, and the sizable platter of fragrant Lyonnais charcuterie.
The quirky window displays at Zoé Buillon, which have featured everything from paper clouds to Barbie dolls, are your first clue that this vegetarian café is a fun and colorful spot. Inside a homey, art-filled space in Belleville, it offers wholesome soups, salads, and sandwiches atop eco-friendly plates. The daily-changing menu features lunch and dinner options like soup with raisins, dried fruits, and herbs, lentil salad, and pesto lasagna. No matter what you order, be sure to finish with a slice of Zoé's fan-favorite cakes, particularly the cheese & tomato or gooey chocolate.
Yes, La Table d'Eugène is located in the 18th arrondissement, but trust us, it's worth making the trek to sample the surprisingly affordable, ever-changing menu at this Michelin-starred French bistro. Every 10 days, Geoffroy Maillard (formerly of Le Bristol and Plaza Athenée) and his team create a new menu out of simple, locally sourced ingredients. The dishes are consistently flavorful and sophisticated, and have included standouts like Iberian pork ribs served on a bed of sweetcorn & beetroot and sprinkled with mole sauce; and semi-cooked foie gras with vineyard peach and a pear & port chutney. The bright, wood-laden space appears formal, but the atmosphere is tranquil and the waiters are always friendly.